Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, our lifestyles have dramatically changed. It has become necessary to spend much time in the indoor space of “rooms.” This keeps us safe but sometimes also leads to feelings of isolation and alienation from the outside world. Close relationships, critical in everyday life, have been crucial for enduring repetitive routine in closed spaces.
Featuring inspired visions of “rooms” expressed by artists from the 19th century to the present day, this exhibition examines personal experiences and expectations associated with rooms. The creative visions of the artists offer us a new perspective on our lives that have been subtly transformed by the confined world of rooms.
This exhibition introduces presents around 50 works dating from the 19th century to the present day in order to offer a fresh look at the expression of interior space. Activities in closed rooms and the light entering through windows of indoor spaces have provided inspiration and been depicted by artists since ancient times. Reflecting social status and personal taste, this theme of interior representation has been especially important in paintings produced since the beginning of modern age. Our awareness of the space of a room has been heightened by stay at home practices that started with the current Covid pandemic. With this perspective, the exhibition re-examines expression in the space of a room by artists whose works convey an atmosphere of modernity and at the same time transform our sense of the room in our daily lives.
During this exhibition, newly acquired works by Kusama Yayoi and Wolfgang Tillmans, two representative artists of our time, will be on display at the Pola Museum of Art for the first time. The Kusama work is particularly rare and important as one of only two she produced with a bed motif. The bed, normally a place of rest for the body and mind, is covered with and transformed by countless protrusions. Tillmans is an artist pioneering new expression in photography. The space where he lived and worked as an artist is captured in photographs ranging from earlier pieces on film to more recent digital works, 10 works in all.
Takada Akiko & Masako’s intricate installations of familiar objects and landscapes jolt our sense of scale and time. With a focus on windows and doors, objects that connect inside and outside, perceptions of public and private space boundaries that emerged from Covid stay at home practices are brought into question. Although their styles differ, Sato Midori and Moriyama Yuichiro, who had their first two-person exhibition in 2021, emphasize the expression of interior spaces. A sense of entrapment brought on by the Covid pandemic further stimulated their desire for nature and gardens. Their new work considers the relationship between the closed space of a room and the open space of nature.
03 EXHIBITION STRUCTURE
Acclaimed Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot depicted scenes of modern life in quick brush strokes. In addition to indoor scenes with her daughter Julie and close friends, Morisot’s paintings often featured balconies and verandas. Such areas, intermediary to indoors and outdoors, allowed her to fashion intimate scenes of family and friends in the light of day. In an era of limited social participation, women mostly spent their time indoors, at home. Morisot’s works, reflecting conditions of the time and capturing the boundary of indoors and outdoors, give us suggestions for considering the character of today’s lifestyles and living spaces.
The genre of interior painting flourished along with the rise of citizenship in the 19th century. Danish artist Hammershøi’s serene interiors, reminiscent of Vermeer’s paintings, stand out in this period of representing intimate scenes of everyday life. Hammershøi, who found beauty in unoccupied interior spaces, stripped away elements of those spaces to create his own tranquility filled interior paintings. His wife and mother often appear in such scenes but are depicted with their backs to us, making it impossible to discern their emotions. At the same time, the silence prevalent in these paintings captivates us.
An active member of the Nabis school in Paris at the end of the 19th century, Bonnard depicted and captured scenes and memories from his immediate surroundings. He used familiar people such as family and friends and familiar objects such as the rooms and dining table of his home, as motifs throughout his career. Marthe, his wife, was in the habit of bathing several times a day. In numerous compositions with various lighting, Bonnard depicted her in her bath and dressing room. Flowing through the paintings is the intimate time between two very close people in an enclosed space. Rather than a posed model, Bonnard preferred to focus of the everyday life of Marthe and the people around him.
While producing paintings and decorative panels as a Nabis artist in the 1890s, Vuillard also worked as a stage designer for theater productions of plays by Maeterlinck and other Symbolist writers. Using the effects of light and dark, he created mysterious and suggestive spaces with his mother and sister as models. After 1900, he adopted brighter colors and produced a large number of portraits, bringing to life as well the surrounding motifs and atmosphere of the rooms where each subject spent their time.
The name “Fauve” (beast) was attached to Matisse in 1905 for his bold use of bold and brushwork. Attracted by the bright sunlight of the south of France, Matisse in 1921 based himself in Nice, where he worked for the rest of his life despite various limitations in his later years due to illness and war. He painted interior spaces, with close attention to wall coverings, furnishings, and even the wardrobe of his models. He incorporated the Mediterranean light and views through windows. The room, for Matisse, was in intimate place where he could interact with his models and freely manipulate all surrounding elements to explore the expression in painting of color and space.
Kusama experienced visual and auditory hallucinations as a child and began creating drawings and paintings with repetitive mesh and polka-dot patterns at an early age. She continues to work prolifically, producing in many genres, including two and three-dimensional works, soft sculptures, installations, and happenings. Bed-Dots Obsession is one of only two works Kusama created with a bed motif. The red polka-dot patterned white fabric that covers the bed is replete with protrusions. What should be a space for peaceful rest is transformed into its bizarre polar opposite.
German-born Tillmans came to prominence in the 1990s when his photographs of everyday life appeared in publications such as i-D Magazine. He continues to be at the forefront of photography, ever expanding new possibilities of the medium. His diary-like photographs, often set in the personal world of his home and studio, and his personal photographs of interiors in New York, London, and Germany reflect his intimate gaze on everyday life.
Manipulating the scale of familiar objects and landscapes, identical twins Takada Akiko and Masako create works that bring into question viewer perceptions of scale and sense of time. Their new installation for the exhibition space uses windows and doors, universal elements of a room, as motifs. Countless open and closed windows and doors with keys in place suggest a progression from closure under Covid lockdowns to later release, and also offer an image of a world beyond. Windows and doors, connectors of indoors and outdoors, also denote the transformation of boundaries between public and private space during the Covid pandemic.
Sato Midori’s paintings of closets lined with clothes and shoes, and of flowers, are vividly colored. The garden, as an outdoor space proximate to the room, became an increasingly important presence for Sato during the Covid pandemic. A new interplay appears between the dresses of the inner recesses of the closet and natural plants, of indoors and outdoors, of the real and the imaginary. Moriyama Yuichiro was based in Paris for many years. He depicts a deeply hidden internal world based on his observation of scenes of everyday life and his travel destinations that have fascinated him. He captures motifs that attract him and unexpected moments. The two artists held their first two-person exhibition together in 2021. For this exhibition, they will present a series of new works, including collaborative work, in their shared space.
Interior Visions : From Bonnard to Tillmans and Contemporary Artists
Sat., January 28, 2023 – Sun., July 2 , 2023
Open every day while exhibition is on view
Pola Museum of Art, Galleries 1 and 3
Pola Museum of Art, Pola Art Foundation
Berthe Morisot, Vilhelm Hammershøi, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, Henri Matisse, Kusama Yayoi, Wolfgang Tillmans, Takada Akiko & Masako, Sato Midori + Moriyama Yuichiro